Pelosi and McConnell resist testing for lawmakers as anxiety spikes

Congressional leaders are digging in on their refusal to mandate regular coronavirus testing for lawmakers, despite growing calls to do so from both inside and outside the Capitol.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected an offer from the administration to provide rapid tests to lawmakers in early May — citing concerns about logistics as well as the appearance of giving lawmakers preferential treatment.

And they haven’t changed their minds, even as members of the Capitol workforce erupted with anger this week over the lack of available testing after news that Rep. Louie Gohmert, a hard-line Republican who brags about refusing to don a mask at the Capitol, tested positive for coronavirus.

“It’s not up to Sen. McConnell and me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s up to the Capitol physician,” Pelosi told reporters on Friday. “There are about 20,000 people who make the Capitol run. And the Capitol physician has not said yet that he thinks we should be tested. But it’s not just us, it’s others as well.”

Similarly, McConnell’s office isn’t planning to change its approach to testing in the Capitol, according to a spokesperson for his office.

Pelosi said it wouldn’t make sense to test just the 535 members of Congress when there are thousands of others including congressional aides, Capitol police officers, maintenance men and women and construction workers who inhabit the sprawling Capitol complex each day.

In addition, the California Democrat questioned the optics of lawmakers receiving regular tests while many Americans across the country have limited access to testing, often waiting in line for hours and then waiting days or weeks to receive their results.

“We would probably have to do thousands of people, some would say every day, some would say every week,” Pelosi said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for members of the Congress to say, ‘We should have it, but maybe not necessarily the people who work here’ at the expense of others.”

Pelosi and McConnell’s resistance hasn’t stopped others from seizing on the issue, saying it’s a no-brainer that lawmakers — most of whom fly in from across the country, many coming from areas where the coronavirus is surging — should be tested.

Gohmert was asymptomatic and was tested only because he was scheduled to fly with President Donald Trump to his home state of Texas earlier this week. The lawmaker, one of a dozen GOP members who openly flout the Capitol’s mask recommendations, potentially could have unknowingly infected other lawmakers and staffers had he not been tested. Some lawmakers who had recently been in close contact with Gohmert got tested afterward, including Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who received negative results after being tested at the Capitol.

Gohmert is the ninth member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus in addition to at least 86 members of the Capitol workforce and an unknown number of congressional staffers, since reporting is voluntary and staffer data arenn’t tracked in a central database. At least one staffer, a longtime member of GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan’s Florida district office, has died because of the virus.

“There’s more than 50 million tests that have already happened in America. The one place it’s not happening is in Congress,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “I can’t understand why the speaker continues to refuse.”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has been on the Hill nearly every day negotiating a coronavirus relief bill, has also chimed in, arguing it’s clear that Congress should be testing lawmakers.

“I think we ought to have testing for members of Congress and their staff and reporters, if they’re going to be in close proximity,” Meadows told reporters Thursday night, reiterating the administration’s offer to provide rapid tests.

“I do think that if you’re looking at the continuity of government, that most Americans would understand why perhaps you would test members of Congress and their staff on a more regular basis,” he added.

But Democratic aides contend Republicans are not sincere in their calls to implement testing and blaming Democrats for their resistance. The logistics of testing hundreds, if not thousands of people daily, is still a significant hurdle because of the limited number of machines offered by the administration.

In addition, the validity of the rapid tests offered by the administration has repeatedly been questioned by science and health experts because of their problematic tendency to provide inaccurate results.

Privately, Democrats point to a recent change in mask protocols by Pelosi as the most effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus around the Capitol. Earlier this week, after Gohmert tested positive, Pelosi mandated that masks be worn by lawmakers and staff on and around the House chamber and in House offices.

Previously, Pelosi had issued a rule requiring lawmakers to wear masks when attending committee hearings in person, a protocol that some Republicans have made a show of disobeying only to receive no punishment. But those requirements will be much more strictly enforced from now on, according to multiple Democratic aides who discussed the issue.

Still, the question of whether lawmakers and other staffers should be regularly tested is one that continues to roil Capitol Hill, particularly after some GOP aides anonymously complained about being discouraged from wearing masks in their offices.

There is no public data available about the number of lawmakers who have been tested at the Capitol, but in at least some cases, the results have been speedy.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she decided to take a test after feeling unwell recently and received the results back in just a few hours; her test came back negative.

But Jayapal said a broad testing mandate in Congress could send the wrong message to the American public, with thousands still struggling to get access to tests.

“You shouldn’t have to be a member of Congress to get tested,” Jayapal said in an interview Friday. “For a lot of Americans, that’s not possible. And that’s the rub. If we were to say we want mandatory testing for everybody, when the rest of America can’t get testing, it feels extremely hypocritical.”

Other Democrats acknowledge the issue is complicated, noting concerns about the optics. But several said they would support testing requirements — perhaps after members travel back and forth to their districts — if there were enough materials available.

“We’re in such close proximity to other members,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), who said he’d be in favor of testing members if tests were available. “After what happened with Louie Gohmert and so many others, better safe than sorry.”

Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

Toronto Raptors will kneel for ‘O Canada’ as well as U.S. anthem in opening game

The Toronto Raptors will treat both the U.S. and Canadian national anthems as “one long song” ahead of their opening game of the NBA restart on Saturday, according to coach Nick Nurse.

Two days after every player and coach kneeled for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a pair of games on opening night, the Raptors are expected to follow suit prior to their first game Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.

When asked about the Canadian anthem, Nurse pointed out that “we certainly have our issues with police brutality in Canada. We don’t want anyone to confuse that, it’s certainly an area Canada needs to work on as well.”

The images of dozens of players and staff kneeling with arms linked during Thursday’s U.S. anthem were powerful. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who was at the Los Angeles Clippers vs. Lakers game, called the moment “beautiful.”

Playing both the U.S. and Canadian anthems pre-game will create a different moment, Nurse said.

“(But) this isn’t about countries, this isn’t about the borders, to me it’s about continuing to shine the light on that we need to do better in (the) police brutality area, we need to do better in the systemic racism area,” the coach said. “That’s not just Canada, America, that’s a lot of places, so we treat that as one long song tomorrow.”

Major League Soccer kicked off its MLS is Back Tournament with a silent ceremony that saw more than 170 Black players from nearly every team ring the field, also at Disney World. The demonstration lasted eight minutes and 46 seconds, the initially reported time a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, eventually killing him.

WATCH | Raptors focus on social issues, title defence:

The NBA returns to the court after a four-month absence and while the Toronto Raptors aim to defend their championship title, players are also shining a light on social injustice. 1:47

Toronto Blue Jays players Anthony Alford and Santiago Espinal kneeled during “O Canada”, then were joined by Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in kneeling during the U.S. anthem in their opening game last Friday at Tampa Bay.

In the NHL, nobody kneeled during exhibition games this week in Toronto. Players from opposing teams either stood side-by-side or locked arms.

The NHL’s official restart begins Saturday.

‘We’re out here trying to get some social justice’ says Lowry

Lowry and several other NBA players, including former Raptor DeMar DeRozan, were in attendance for the Lakers-Clippers battle. Utah and New Orleans met in the earlier game.

Lowry said the anthem demonstrations set the tone for “what we’re down here for.”

“Those four teams, including coaches in the organization, I think it was beautiful what they did and they did it in unison, and for us to be able to do that in our league, support us, and our players and all of us being one,” he said. “Yes, we’re all competitors and, yes, we want to beat each other, but at the end of the day we’re out here trying to get some social justice.”

A major theme of the restart is amplifying social justice messages.

“As I watched (the anthems), you could feel it stirring some emotions in your heart and in your mind,” Nurse said. “That, to me, means it was impactful, I’m sure a lot of people felt as I did.”

Lowry said he was thinking about specific events.

“What was going though my head was justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, all these guys, all these Black human beings, Black men and Black women, being killed in cold blood,” he said. “That stuff hits hard and I have two young children and I would hate to have that happen to them or happen to me or anyone in my family or anyone I know.”

WNBA players walked off the court prior to the anthem when the league tipped off last Saturday.

Nurse, who wore an orange WNBA hoodie for Friday’s Zoom call, said he’s always been a big fan of the women’s pro league, and used to watch games either on TV or live to get his summer basketball fix.

“They’ve been in the news doing some cool things,” he said of the WNBA’s restart.

Saskatchewan holding the line on prevention despite spike in coronavirus cases

Saskatchewan is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases unlike anything experienced since the coronavirus pandemic first began four months ago.

On Monday, the reproductive rate of coronavirus (Rt) in Saskatchewan was 2.2, meaning for each person infected they will infect roughly two to three others.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe responded to the growing number of cases saying, “I know we are all some level suffering of pandemic fatigue and most of us have probably been a little less careful than we have in the spring. That may be why we’re seeing a few case numbers starting to creep up again in parts of the province as well, I don’t think it’s any cause for alarm just yet.”

Read more: Canadian Hutterite colonies struggle with coronavirus outbreaks

The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, noted that actions needed to be taken to stop what he called an “increasing risk of transmission.”

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“We must do what we can to reduce, what is still a fairly low risk of transmission, but certainly an increasing risk of transmission in Saskatchewan,” Shahab said.

By Wednesday Saskatchewan’s Rt had jumped to 2.94 — and the spread in Hutterite communities is even higher.

“The effective reproductive number now for central and south Saskatchewan is 3.19, so concerningly high,” Shahab said.

“With over 300 members, we’re running above a five per cent infection rate in those communities. This is as high of an infection rate as anything I’m aware of in North America, and that is why we’re taking this very seriously,” Moe asserted.

The spread of the virus has led to 18 deaths in Saskatchewan, two occurring this week, both victims from the south region where cases of COVID-19 have climbed by nearly 200 in the past month.

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“As expected with the increase in cases, hospitalizations are also trending upwards and this should be a great concern to all of us,” Shahab said.

Read more: Moe calls outbreak in Hutterite colonies ‘severe,’ active coronavirus cases jump over 300 in Sask.

Saskatchewan’s former deputy medical health officer, Dr. Anne Huang, says she had a great level of concern before Wednesday’s spike in cases.

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“The rising rate of community transmission coupled with a much higher rate of social interactions means we’re going to see the case counts rising much faster than we have seen in the past,” she said.

Huang says she believes there’s still time to get Saskatchewan’s growing outbreaks under control, but that will require stronger regulations, like mandatory masks.

“I can’t think of a good reason why we hesitate, implementing a low cost, low risk, effective intervention to help reduce the community transmission in Saskatchewan, which will allow us to maintain as much of the economic activities and social activity as we can.”

On Wednesday, Canadian Press writer Stephanie Taylor asked the province why, despite the increase in cases, they have yet to take more direct action.

“The government does have power to issue stay-at-home orders, for police to issue fines, for roadblocks and take more heavy-handed approaches to stop this, which I’m sure is being spread quite quickly in a communal setting like a Hutterite colony. Why, given the severity, and how quickly this is spreading, not take measures such as those,” Taylor asked.

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Saskatchewan’s rural and remote health minister, Warren Kaeding, instead focused on current protocols.

”I would say right now we’re certainly encouraging compliance in each of those communities and we are getting that in the majority of cases but we’ve never precluded either that we wouldn’t have to take further steps if they’re required,” Kaeding responded.

One of the measures the province is taking is to visit each Hutterite community in Saskatchewan to continue testing and contact tracing, but measures like those taken in Northern Saskatchewan earlier in the pandemic have yet to occur; although Kaeding says they’re not off the table.

“We’ve shown that in certain communities around [the] province as well that weren’t able to provide the resources, maybe were shorthanded in what they could do to set up roadblocks, and they asked us to help and intervene and take part and support them in those actions,” Kaeding said.

“If that opportunity arises, we will certainly support them in that,” he continued.

Moe also admitted there are other actions the province could be taking, interjecting to note “there are powers that the government does have and there may be instances in the near future where possibly those powers may have to be utilized.”

When that will happen is unclear.

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The province has repeatedly said they do expect to use stronger language around masking but that’s not expected until the fall.

Some experts say it should come sooner.

Read more: Saskatchewan’s top doctor recommends wearing reusable cloth masks come the fall

“The assumption of waiting for the fall is that was when we thought we’re going to see the rise in case counts but we’re seeing many rises of cases counts right now in Saskatchewan already,” Huang countered.

As cases continue to spike, all eyes are on provincial officials, awaiting their next move.

“If we just respond to these fundamental measures only after we see an increase in case numbers then to a large extent we have not been able to prevent something that all of us have been able to prevent,” Shahab said Wednesday.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

White House, Democrats feud over deadlock as millions set to lose jobless aid

White House officials and Democratic leaders tried to blame each other for the impasse over the new coronavirus relief bill, even as millions of Americans are set to lose $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent Friday morning accusing the other of being unwilling to reach a compromise on a new relief package, with both sides unable to come to an agreement on unemployment benefits, state and local aid and a slew of other issues.

Meadows said he’d made “no less than four” different offers to Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on extending boosted unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions. He and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been in talks with the Democratic leaders throughout the week but the negotiators couldn’t reach a deal before Congress left Washington.

“Those four different offers have been actually rejected but more importantly than that they’ve not even been countered with a proposal,” Meadows said at a White House press conference. “The Democrats are certainly willing today to allow some of the American citizens who are struggling the most under this pandemic to go unprotected.”

Pelosi was equally as pessimistic in her weekly press conference on Friday, slamming Republicans for refusing to concede anything in the negotiations and thus making the prospects of a deal seem a distant possibility.

“We don’t have shared values, that’s just the way it is. It’s not bickering, it’s standing our ground,” Pelosi told reporters. “We recognize the gravity of the situation, they don’t.”

The partisan standstill comes as a federal $600 weekly benefit for unemployed Americans from March’s CARES Act is set to expire at midnight. Democrats are pushing for a full extension of the benefit into next year, but Senate Republicans argue the $600 boost provides a disincentive for out-of-work Americans to return to work and want to see it adjusted in any next relief package.

The need, however, has only become more urgent. Coronavirus continues to spread throughout the U.S., with an estimated 1,000 Americans dying a day from the virus, while the economy suffered its worst quarterly contraction on record.

In a sign of how pessimistic Democratic leaders are of reaching a deal soon, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Friday that members would be sent home with a 24-hour notice to return in August to vote on a relief package once an agreement is reached.

But Hoyer gave no indication of when that vote might occur – offering an unsteady start to what would normally be the kickoff of a five-week August recess for lawmakers.

“We will not start the August district work period until we pass appropriate COVID-19 relief to meet the current health and economic crisis,” Hoyer announced on the House floor.

Republicans offered Thursday to extend the $600 boost for one more week, but Democrats, rejected that offer. Pelosi said Friday the proposal didn’t make sense given how far apart the two sides are on a broader bill. Typically, congressional negotiators will agree to a one-week extension of certain expiring programs to allow time for a larger deal to work its way through both the House and Senate.

But in this case, as Pelosi said, there is no larger relief agreement looming. Instead, both parties remain far apart on several critical issues, including unemployment benefits, state and local funding, federal food assistance and money to prop up the flailing postal service and for election security.

“What are we going to do in a week?” Pelosi said. “First of all, they don’t even have the votes for it in the Senate. Let’s get real about who says what.”

Meadows and Mnuchin met with Pelosi and Schumer Thursday evening for more than two hours, but the meeting – the fourth this week – once again yielded no progress. Pelosi and Schumer will speak with Meadows and Mnuchin by phone Friday and meet in person Saturday.

The dispute over extending the unemployment benefits comes after two weeks of partisan fighting, as well as a Republican intra-party divide over how to approach the next coronavirus relief package. The White House has floated a temporary “skinny bill” that would address unemployment and evictions, but Pelosi and Schumer argue they don’t want a “piecemeal” approach.

“It surprises me that when we talk about compassion and caring about those that are truly in need that a temporary solution to make sure that enhanced unemployment continues has been rejected not once but multiple times,” Meadows said. “The Democrats believe they have all the cards on their side and they’re willing to play those cards at the expense of those that are hurting.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is also trying to step up the pressure on Senate Democrats and took procedural steps Thursday that would allow for floor votes next week on a range of proposals.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) attempted to pass his own proposal Thursday, which would renew federal unemployment payments at 66 percent of lost wages or $200 a week. But Schumer rejected it, and instead offered the House’s $3 trillion Heroes Act, which Republicans have dismissed as a Democratic wish list.

Montreal Canadiens look to rewrite script against Pittsburgh Penguins

Shea Weber is fine being the underdog.

Good thing, because the Montreal Canadiens and their captain are certainly that heading into the team’s qualifying round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Canadiens were playing out the string, sitting 24th in the overall standings — some 15 points back of the seventh-ranked Penguins — when the NHL was shut down in mid-March by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montreal had traded away a number of veterans and was already looking to next season. But when the league settled on a 24-team format in the spring for its summer restart to the 2019-20 campaign, the Canadiens just snuck in under the wire and now have a chance to rewrite their script.

WATCH | Rob Pizzo previews Canadiens vs. Penguins:

Can Carey Price help the Habs pull off a huge upset over the Penguins? Rob Pizzo breaks down their chances.  1:17

All that’s standing in their way is a battle-tested opponent with championship pedigree led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“I’ve got no problem with that,” Weber said of his team being given little chance heading into the best-of-five series that opens Saturday at Scotiabank Arena inside the Toronto bubble. “We could be underdogs all day. That’s fine. It’s a situation that we’ve all been in before. Nobody should take offence to that and no one should listen to that.

“Anything can happen.”

It can, but Montreal figures to be in tough.

WATCH | Rob Pizzo previews Eastern conference: 

In part 1 of 10, Rob Pizzo looks at the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals and Flyers to see who may come out with the #1 seed.  1:15

The club parted with veteran forwards Ilya Kovalchuk and Nate Thompson, as well as steady defenceman Marco Scandella, prior to the trade deadline, meaning that a number of young players will have increased roles much sooner than expected.

“You take what you have,” Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said. “We have a great opportunity here to grow.”

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, still has the nucleus of its Stanley Cup-winning teams from 2016 and 2017, and is hungry to respond after getting swept in the first round of last spring’s playoffs by the New York Islanders.

“Everyone’s in the same position, everyone’s got a clean slate,” Crosby said of playing a meaningful game for the first time in 4 1/2 months. “The fact that we can have our team healthy, we haven’t really had the luxury the whole year.

“Everyone’s excited to get going.”

Beating Pens ‘an enormous challenge’ says Price

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said staying within Pittsburgh’s structure is key against an opponent that will look to keep things tight defensively.

“We’re going to have to fight for our scoring chances,” he said. “We’re going to have to have an element of patience associated with our game so that we don’t force plays that aren’t there and turn into a high-risk team.

“It’s going to be a hard-fought battle.”

WATCH | Habs face Leafs for 1st time since league went on pause: 

Alexander Kerfoot records 2 goals in the middle frame as Toronto doubles up Montreal 4-2. 0:31

And while most observers would disagree — a significant number of Canadiens fans are actually hoping their team loses and secures a 12.5 per cent chance of winning the No. 1 pick in the NHL’s second draft lottery so Montreal can select Quebec-born junior star Alexis Lafreniere — Sullivan said his locker room won’t be caught off guard.

“There’s a lot of parity in this league (and) there’s such a fine line between winning and losing,” he said. “The difference between the top-5 teams and the middle-of-the-pack teams is not that significant.”

Goaltender Carey Price and the Canadiens, however, know the hill they’ll have to climb in order to advance to the usual 16-team playoff bracket.

“Trying to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins is an enormous challenge,” he said. “Winning a Stanley Cup is an enormous challenge. I don’t think anybody knows this any better than the Pittsburgh Penguins.”

Weber, meanwhile, is convinced if things fall right, Montreal has a chance to do something special.

“You look at the history of playoffs, of the Stanley Cup over the years, strange things have happened,” said the defenceman. “Teams get on a roll at the right time, good goaltending, and stay healthy.

“You just don’t know.”

Trudeau says he anticipated ‘perception issues’ over WE Charity student grant deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he knew there would be problems with perception over having WE Charity run a $900-million student-volunteer program, but he believed there was no conflict of interest because his family would not benefit.

The prime minister also said he did not seek guidance from the federal ethics commissioner after public servants recommended the WE organization administer the Canada Student Service Grant.

This, despite the fact Trudeau said he did know the public and opposition politicians would scrutinize the deal because of his own and his family’s ties to WE, which is why he told the public servants recommending the organization to go back and make absolutely sure they were on solid ground.

“I knew there would be perception issues around this,” Trudeau said Friday in Ottawa, speaking to reporters less than 24 hours after making a rare prime ministerial appearance at a House of Commons committee over his role in the controversy.

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Read more: 5 takeaways from Trudeau’s testimony in WE Charity scandal investigation

“At the same time, delivering a grant program to students who volunteer across the country has absolutely nothing to do with any work my brother or mother did with WE and that’s why there was no conflict of interest.”

Trudeau said he should have recused himself from the discussions, but instead chose to ask for this due diligence to be done — something he says he now regrets.

The prime minister testified Thursday that he didn’t learn WE had been chosen by the public service to run the program until May 8, which was just hours before the arrangement was to be taken to cabinet for approval.

That’s when, Trudeau said, he put the brakes on the deal.

“We pulled the item from the agenda so that we could be doing the right thing, the way,” Trudeau told the Commons finance committee.

Finance committee grills Trudeau during WE Charity testimony

Finance committee grills Trudeau during WE Charity testimony

The public service later came back on May 21 to reaffirm its recommendation that WE was the only organization that could run the student-volunteer program, Trudeau said. WE ended up backing out of the deal in early July over the political controversy.

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Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford testified that the civil servants presented it as a “binary choice” — either they moved ahead with WE Charity to deliver the program or they wouldn’t go ahead with it at all.

Trudeau acknowledged his family’s involvement with WE: his mother, brother and wife have participated in and spoken at WE events, and have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and expenses, although he testified the amounts were not previously known to him.

READ MORE: Trudeau says he didn’t know WE Charity might get grant until matter came to cabinet

He stressed that he did not have any conversations with WE co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger during this time and that WE Charity did not receive any preferential treatment by him or anyone else in the government.

He also said he didn’t talk to his staff about WE Charity or its proposed involvement in the volunteering program until May 8, although he has since learned policy staff in his office had been working with the Privy Council Office and other departments, and they knew that WE Charity was under consideration to run the effort.

The prime minister and Telford also both noted that Sophie Gregoire Trudeau’s work with WE, including a podcast on mental wellness, has been unpaid except for expenses covered by the organization, all of which had been cleared by the ethics commissioner.

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The Conservatives and NDP have called on federal ethics watchdog Mario Dion to widen his probe of Trudeau to include these expenses.

WE Charity controversy: Telford asked why Trudeau not told earlier Canada Service Corps not delivering student grant program

WE Charity controversy: Telford asked why Trudeau not told earlier Canada Service Corps not delivering student grant program

Dion is already investigating Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act for not recusing themselves during cabinet discussions about the WE deal. Dion is also looking into WE-sponsored trips Morneau and his family took in 2017. Morneau repaid $41,000 in related expenses last week.

Opposition MPs on the Commons finance committee are now pushing to hear from more junior staffers in the prime minister’s office, and demanding access to cabinet documents.

They want more detailed answers about why WE Charity began working on and incurring expenses for the program on May 5, when it had not yet been approved by cabinet.

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READ MORE: WE Charity paid U.S. consultants who provide ‘combative media training’: tax records

Telford told the committee that another Trudeau aide talked to WE that same day, though she said he referred WE to the public service to talk about anything substantial.

The Kielburger brothers have said those permanent officials told WE it could incur expenses before being awarded the agreement.

They said they wanted to get the program going quickly, and started work knowing they could lose money if cabinet said no.

Meanwhile, the Canada Student Service Grant is now unlikely to be part of the $9-billion student aid program Ottawa is rolling out this summer, Trudeau said, adding that he regrets how the whole affair has unfolded.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

In race for vaccine, African countries fear coming in last

Welcome to POLITICO’s new Global Public Health Spotlight — an extension of the Global Translations newsletter. Each week we track major issues facing the globe. Sign up here.

Political leaders across the world have said everybody, everywhere, should be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available. But across Africa, health officials are growing increasingly concerned they won’t be able to afford the potentially life-saving therapies currently under development.

The deals a handful of governments are striking with pharmaceutical companies to secure millions of vaccine doses in advance of licensing approval suggest this pandemic could play out the same, old way the HIV-AIDS and swine flu crises did: rich countries first, the rest later — or maybe never.

“It’s almost like children fighting over food at home and the oldest child who is the strongest taking all the food and saying, ‘Listen, I will keep all this food for myself and I don’t care if my brothers and sisters have eaten or not,’” Chikwe Ihekweazu, chief executive officer at Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control told POLITICO. He said that distributing vaccines “on a country’s ability to buy” would radically increase global inequity.

Pharmaceutical companies don’t want to be caught in the middle of the global rivalry, said Thomas Cueni, who leads the Geneva-based International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. “Realistically, for everybody to get a vaccine, we might need around 12 to 15 billion doses,” he said. That could be a problem, given that “the five or six biggest vaccine manufacturers produce, in total, less than half of this volume in a year.”

Drugmakers are already working to ramp up their capacity to produce billions of extra doses, before they know if their vaccines would even be effective, Cueni said.

Some of those could be produced in Africa, hopes John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an Addis Ababa-based agency of the African Union.

“We have manufacturing capabilities and capacity across the continent in South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal,” he told POLITICO. “We should not just be standby spectators in this setting.”

Doomsday averted…for now

So far, the doomsday scenarios some feared when the pandemic reached Africa have not materialized. Among 1.2 billion people, the continent has reported 750,000 novel coronavirus infections and 13,000 deaths. More than half the infections and deaths are in South Africa. Nkengasong said that’s because countries locked down swiftly after seeing what was happening in China and Europe. But like in many other parts of the world, Africa’s numbers are increasing rapidly. “We see much more community transmission,” Nkengasong said.

Testing remains a challenge on the continent, both in terms of numbers of tests carried out and the speed by which results come back. Some 7.5 million people in Africa have been tested over the last four months, but Nkengasong thinks 13 to 15 million tests are needed each month to gain a better understanding of the virus’ spread. It can take between one to two weeks to get the results, increasing the likelihood that those who test positive will infect others.

How to avoid history repeating itself

Africa’s CDC, created in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa between 2014 and 2016, has been instrumental in getting countries on the continent to cooperate during the coronavirus pandemic.

The next crucial step is a united front on vaccine access. African Union health ministers endorsed a strategy in June, working through the COVAX Facility, a GAVI Alliance-backed scheme to strike deals with manufacturers for vaccine doses. For rich countries, COVAX acts as insurance if their preferred vaccine never makes it to market, while for poor countries, it’s usually their only option. Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI vaccine alliance, promotes COVAX as the “only truly global solution” for vaccine distribution.

At least 136 countries are interested in taking part in the scheme. Even if successful, COVAX would make available only 2 billion vaccine doses to participating countries by the end of 2021, well short of the doses needed to vaccinate everyone whose governments joined the scheme.

AstraZeneca, which is developing a vaccine with Oxford University, has committed to supply 300 million doses to COVAX. The drugmaker has already signed a deal with four European countries — France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands — to supply them with 400 million vaccine doses at cost, if it proves effective.

Pfizer and BioNTech, which have struck deals with the U.S. and U.K. government, have expressed interest in supplying COVAX, as well, a Pfizer spokesperson said.

Both COVAX and pharma companies say they want to avoid a repeat of the swine flu pandemic a decade ago. Then, “a few countries cornered the vaccine market, leaving the vast majority of the global population with no vaccine at all until the outbreak was effectively over,” GAVI’s Berkley, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations’ Richard Hatchett and the WHO’s Soumya Swaminathan wrote in mid-July.

“The solution is likely going to be a mix of bilateral and global agreements,” IPFMA’s Cueni said.


By the numbers – 27: The number of vaccine candidates now in human trials.

The race is getting hotter: The world may have its first approved coronavirus vaccine in a few weeks time — from Russia. The vaccine could get the green light as early as Aug. 10, even though it has not yet been tested for efficacy and safety in thousands of people, which is typically a prerequisite for approval. Those tests will take place in parallel with the vaccination of health care workers, CNN reported. More than 60 percent of American voters are willing to accept delays to a vaccine if that ensures its safety, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out Wednesday. North Korea says it’s also in the vaccine race, though the claim is raising concerns that the project is really an effort to boost its biological weapons game.

Price tensions emerge: U.S. biotech firm Moderna, which has received almost $1 billion from the American government to develop its vaccine against coronavirus, plans to charge rich countries about $50 to $60 a dose, the Financial Times reported. The European Union is negotiating with drugmakers to pay less than $40 per shot, an unnamed EU official told Reuters. Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI vaccine alliance, said, “The truth is nobody has an idea what the price is going to be, because we have no idea which vaccine is going to work.”

Pharma execs cashing in via stock valuation: Executives and board members at pharma companies working on coronavirus vaccines have cashed in on big stock valuations, even though their product may never make it to market, the New York Times reported.

What happens after a vaccine is approved: Coming up with a vaccine that is safe and wins official approval is only half the battle. Then comes the issue of distribution, which poses challenges because of the massive supply needed and the trouble of shipping doses around the world.

Side effects: People also have to be prepared to accept some short-term discomfort after receiving the vaccine, which could include headache, sore arms, fatigue, chills, and fever. Such side effects are being seen across a number of different vaccines, made in different ways, STAT reported.


Never dying alone: Hospitals in Chile have set up special units to avoid one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the pandemic: people dying alone in the hospital.

Nearly no place untouched: People traveling by small boat have spread the virus along the length of the Amazon River, making it as likely for people in some remote areas of Brazil to catch the virus as those in New York City. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, a cancer researcher is still trying to understand how an Italian island has been spared from the coronavirus outbreak.

Who you gonna call? Covid-busters! Volunteers have propped up Kyrgyzstan’s health system amid the pandemic.

— Ryan Heath contributed reporting

کانادا دو Pavan Humana-Paredes مشتاق برای مسابقه برگشت با آمریکا رقبای

رانندگی در کنار اقیانوس اطلس از طریق لانگ بیچ کالیفرنیا در حال حاضر یک آشنا سفر برای سارا Pavan و ملیسا Humana-Paredes.

با Pavan رانندگی و Humana-Paredes, روش سوارکاری, shotgun, منظره اقیانوس از بین می رود به عنوان آنها به نوبه خود به سمت بزرگراه بین ایالتی 405 و سرعت گذشته ایستگاه های گاز و رستوران مکزیکی در راه خود به خانه.

آن بوده است که این روال برای حاکم والیبال ساحلی قهرمان جهان پس از هر بازی از جام قهرمانان اروپا برای اولین بار والیبال ساحلی رویداد برگزار شد پس از COVID-19 آورده جهان را متوقف کند. و آن را ادامه خواهد داد در این آخر هفته در سوم و نهایی مسابقات که در آن بسیاری امیدواریم که برای دیدن آنها را در یک طلا-مدال, مسابقه با رقبای مارس راس و Alix Klineman.

“روز وجود دارد هنگامی که ما درایو خانه و ما واقعا نا امید با برخی از بازی و یا یک مجموعه خاص و یا چگونه در یک مسابقه رفت” Pavan گفت: CBC Sports. “آن همیشه جایگزین ایستگاه راک و ما معمولا برخی از مکث به خواندن یک بیت اما ما معمولا تحت پوشش در شن و ماسه با داشتن برخی از تنقلات و چت.

“و ما هر بحث در مورد چیزهایی که ما شخصا احساس ما نیست و یا می تواند انجام شود بهتر است.”

حتی زمانی که آنها برنده مکالمه تغییر نمی کند زیاد است.

“گاهی اوقات ما می شود مانند” چگونه ما آن را انجام دهیم ؟ ما نیست ما بهترین بازی'” گفت: Humana-Paredes. “این سخت است برای ما به ستایش خودمان است.”

اما هفته گذشته مسابقات پیچیده که پویا به این دلیل که انتقادی از عملکرد آنها بیهوده است: Pavan و Humana-Paredes می دانستم که هیچ راهی وجود دارد که آنها می خواهم به انجام در سطح آنها عادت کرده اند و به آنها اعتراف آن شده است پر از دست انداز شروع می شود. پس انتظارات خود را تعیین شد بر این اساس به دنبال به سهولت به رقابت و سقوط در عشق با بازی های far cry از معمولی خود را هدف برنده شدن است.

سازمان دیده بان | Mad Libs با قهرمان جهان:

آیا شما دیوانه Libs به عنوان یک بچه ؟ اینجا تیم کانادا ورزشکاران بازی… با یک پیچ و تاب. آن را خنده دار. به ما اعتماد. 3:10

اما آن را آسان تر از انجام گفت هنگامی که شما چهره به چهره خود را با بزرگترین رقبا و رقابت در تلویزیون ملی برای حقوق bragging و قابل ملاحظه جایزه نقدی.

“ما قطعا پس از آن کار ما سخت و خروج از آن همه وجود دارد اما به طور معمول ما بسیار مهم و در حال هل دادن خیلی سخت تر” Pavan گفت. “و بنابراین فقط پیدا کردن که تعادل از درک و پذیرش است و اصرار به بهتر خواهد بود.

“این یک چیز جالب به کار را از طریق در این زمان, اما من فکر می کنم ما در حال دست زدن به آن را در راه حق است.”

آنها تا به حال برخی از لحظات درخشان و حساس هم عالی بازی می کند که نشان داد یک نگاه اجمالی خود را قبل از قرنطینه فرم. آنها سوم به پایان رسید و در هفته دوم در دو هفته. اما حتی پس از اتمام سه هستند آسیب پذیر به محل برای قهرمان جهان است.

‘انجام آن pubicly’

“به چالش کشیدن بخشی است که به طور معمول هنگامی که ما در حال رفتن را از طریق این فرایند ما در حال انجام آن علنا” گفت: Pavan. “این یک نمونه اولیه از نگاه فصل برای ما اما هیچ کس تا کنون می بیند که. آنها معمولا دیدن محصول به پایان رسید.

“به طوری که واقعا به چالش کشیدن برای مقابله با این دلیل که ما آن را می دانم وجود دارد, ما فقط شده اند قادر به آموزش به اندازه کافی به اجازه دهید آن را از طریق درخشش.”

اما با بازی های ذهنی خود را آماده کرده و حرکت خود به سمت Pavan و Humana-Paredes طرح در پايان در بالا در آخر این هفته مسابقات است. اگر آنها را به طلا-مدال مطابقت آنها به احتمال زیاد در صورت راس و Klineman که تحت سلطه این رویداد برنده اول مسابقات دو و ضرب و شتم کانادایی ها هر بار با آنها ملاقات کردم.

سازمان دیده بان | کانادا جفت دست می دهد در AVP نهایی:

سارا Pavan و ملیسا Humana-Paredes کاهش یافته مستقیم مجموعه دست دادن به Alix Klineman و مارس در راس ویلسون نهایی جام حذفی. 1:06

“سارا تا به حال واقعا لحظه بزرگ در دوربین” گفت: Humana رژه خندان. “ما در آینده یک ویژگی های زمان آن را 11-10 و سارا گفت:” شما می دانید ما در حال بازی در یک صفر از 10 در حال حاضر و آن را هنوز هم یک نمره.’ و او پس حق ما بازی نمی کنیم و ما هنوز قادر به رقابت بپردازند.”

“که تقریبا خسته کننده تر از بودن در یک سطح خوب و نزدیک بودن, بنابراین ما با استفاده از آن به عنوان انگیزه. آتش در درون من در حال سوختن است و من مطمئن هستم که آن را در داخل سارا بیش از حد.”

این کانادایی ها می گویند کلیدی برای ماندن در رقابت با آمریکایی ها که در حال ساخت تعداد بسیار کمی از اشتباهات این است که مدیریت خود را خدمت می کنند.

“این ناامید کننده هنگامی که ما نمی دراز آنها را در سطح ما می خواهیم” گفت: Pavan. “اما ما واقعا خوش شانس چرا که مربی تیم ما وجود دارد با ما در هر مرحله از راه و او را به جمع آوری اطلاعات زیادی متوجه چه تغییرات آنها ساخته شده ایم در برابر ما و آنچه که ما نیاز به انجام آن را به سطح بعدی.

“ما در حال استفاده از این به عنوان یک فرصت ما کاملا می خواهید به ضرب و شتم آنها را به خاطر ما نمی خواهیم به از دست دادن به آنها را سه بار در یک ردیف است.”

London, Ont., couple wins $100K in lottery draw

A lucky London, Ont., couple is celebrating a lottery win.

A ticket purchased by Ericka and Lincoln James matched the last six of seven Encore numbers in exact order in the May 5, 2020 daily Keno draw.

Read more: Cancer survivor from Bewdley, Ont., wins $1 million on scratch ticket

“I thought the win was for $1,000, and I was thrilled about it,” said Ericka, a hospital worker, while at the OLG Prize Centre in Toronto to pick up their cheque. The prize they won was actually $100,000.

“I called my husband and he came right home. Then we went to the store together to validate the ticket,” she said, adding that Lincoln did a happy dance as the lottery terminal confirmed the results.

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COVID-19 Roundup: How virus is affecting Lotto Max prizes, Habitat for Humanity asks for donations

COVID-19 Roundup: How virus is affecting Lotto Max prizes, Habitat for Humanity asks for donations

The pair said they plan to use their winnings to help family and pay their mortgage. “My dad is in Jamaica and is sick,” Ericka said. “It feels wonderful to be able to help him.”

“This is a good feeling – a very, very, good feeling.”

“Especially with the COVID chaos, the timing of this was perfect,” Lincoln, a heavy equipment operator, added.

The winning ticket was purchased at Quick Stop Mini Mart on Thompson Road in London.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Fauci: Virus rampant in U.S. due to inadequate, patchwork shutdowns

The Trump administration’s decision to leave coronavirus shutdown decisions to the states created a patchwork of policies that effectively only imposed restrictions on about half of the country, NIH infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci told a House hearing on Friday.

“There were some states that did it very well, and there were some states did not,” Fauci told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Friday morning without elaborating.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases appeared with CDC Director Robert Redfield and Trump administration testing czar Brett Giroir at the hearing as the scope of the outbreak continued to spread north and toward the coasts. Spread is only contained in 12 states while 27 are exhibiting new all-time highs, according to a daily update from Morgan Stanley.

Panel Chair Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) sought to contrast Covid-19 cases in the United States and Europe, where nations took a more centralized approach to restrictions. Responding to a chart Clyburn displayed, Fauci noted European countries shut down activities “to the tune of 95-plus percent of the country” and brought cases down to a much lower baseline for disease spread before reopening.

“We started off with a very difficult baseline of transmission that was going on when we tried to open up the country,” he said. “Then we saw an increase of cases to 20, 30, 50,000 and a couple of weeks ago it was up to 70,000 cases a day.”

Fauci also reiterated his belief that a coronavirus vaccine will be developed by the end of the year, citing promising new data from trials in animals and humans, and sought to assure the public that no corners were being cut.

“I know to some people this seems like it is so fast that there might be compromising of safety or scientific integrity,” he said. “I can tell you that is absolutely not the case.”

President Donald Trump also weighed in during the testimony, tweeting that Clyburn “doesn’t have a clue” and repeating the false claim that cases are higher in the U.S. because the U.S. tests more than any country.